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Exploring English grammar

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This module looks at how we choose to represent ourselves and our world through choices of wording and grammar and will appeal to people who enjoy an analytical approach. You will explore applications of language analysis in different work contexts and address questions such as: What makes particular texts effective? How is English used differently in different contexts? You’ll also learn how to use computer software to deepen your understanding of the grammatical differences between texts. This module is not specifically aimed at speakers of English as a second language, but will enhance all students’ linguistic awareness.

What you will study

The module has four blocks, each of which includes study of a print book. Alongside these, you'll study a range of online, audiovisual material: each week you’ll have grammar activities and usually also corpus activities and sometimes grammar applications material. Occasionally you’ll also look at digital literacy material, assessment preparation and work with other students in your tutor group forum. One week at the end of each block is devoted to an area of grammar in applications, ranging from the use of computers to analysing texts in an English for Academic Purposes classroom, to how journalists write differently in tabloid and broadsheet and online newspapers, to doctor-patient interactions and how these can be made more effective. A further week per block is devoted to writing tutor-marked assignments with four weeks at the end of the module spent on a small-scale end-of-module assessment project in which you will be able to select your own area of interest to explore.

Block 1 aims to provide a gentle introduction to grammar – what is it and why is it worth studying? We will move from a review of structural terms in the early units – particularly useful if you have not studied Worlds of English (U214) – to unpacking the basics of the systemic functional linguistic approach adopted in this module. 

Block 2 focuses on the way in which we use language to experience and have ideas about the world. Known as ideational meaning, this relates to who does what to whom, how, when, where and why. 

In Block 3 we look at how texts are formed. What makes a text cohesive and coherent? Have you ever felt that some of the text that you have produced could have been organised more effectively? This is known as textual meaning.

In the first part of Block 4 we will explore how interpersonal meaning is formed in texts. How do some people manage to persuade you to change your mind on an issue, while others have little influence? Why do some people – in works of fiction or news stories or in your own lives – appear dynamic, while others seem more passive? The rest of this block pulls together the three aspects of meaning making covered in the module: ideational, textual and interpersonal – and looks at how they work together.

Throughout all four blocks you will develop your capacity to analyse, interpret and evaluate texts from the perspective of their lexicogrammatical choices and patterns – within and beyond the clause. Similarly you will develop your capacity to apply your evolving knowledge and understanding of lexicogrammar to texts and contexts relevant to you. For example you will learn how to use the corpus tool to provide robust insights in text analysis.

You will learn

By studying this module you will develop:
  • an understanding of the major characteristics of English grammar;
  • skills in language analysis and interpretation;
  • skills in applying linguistic understanding in order to evaluate and improve the quality of your written texts.

Entry requirements

Most students will have already studied Worlds of English (U214) before beginning their OU level 3 study. If you have not taken U214, we recommend that you allow sufficient time at the start of E304 to thoroughly study the online Grammar Activities provided and also to work through the Linguistic Toolkit (this will be provided as an online resource). 

A reasonable level of computer literacy is expected and a willingness to engage with a new learning tool, though you will be given step-by-step guidance on how to install software, unzip files, and so on.

This module provides a thorough grounding in the analysis of texts using traditional grammatical terms and a clear introduction to the influential approach to grammar known as Systemic Functional Linguistics. It is practically orientated, and will give you many opportunities to reflect on your own writing and how it can be improved.

The module is skills-based so it’s important that you keep up with your studies as the module content is cumulative.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Four print study books, Corpus Tool Activities Handbook, online audiovisual and teaching material on applications of language analysis and on grammar practice activities, access to corpus software and corpora.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will support you in online tutor group forums, face-to-face tutorials and synchronous online sessions.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E304 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Exploring English grammar (E304) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2022.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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